Commelina benghalensis (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Commelina benghalensis L.

Protologue: Sp. pl. 1: 41 (1753).

Vernacular names

  • Wandering jew (En)
  • Indonesia: petungan, kekupu (Javanese), tali korang (Sundanese)
  • Malaysia: rumput mayiam
  • Philippines: bias-bias (Tagalog), kabilau (Bisaya), kulkul-lasi (Iloko)
  • Burma (Myanmar): myet-cho
  • Laos: kaab pii
  • Vietnam: dầu riều, thài lài lông.


Widely dispersed in the Old World tropics and the Pacific Islands, and naturalized in South America and Florida.


In the Philippines and India, the whole plant is considered demulcent, laxative and astringent, and applied for strangury. In Taiwan the aerial parts are used as a maturative poultice. The fresh plants are for sale in Chinese herbalist shops in Malaysia.

Young tops taste slightly bitter and are steamed as a vegetable in Indonesia and Indo-China.


  • An annual to perennial, creeping or ascending herb, usually pubescent, rhizomatous.
  • Leaves ovate to elliptical, 4–-7 cm × 2-4 cm, apex obtuse to acuminate, sheath rusty ciliate.
  • Normally 1 spathe per axil, boat-shaped, about 1.5 cm long, margins partly connate, upper raceme in spathe with 1-3 sterile flowers, lower raceme with 1-5 bisexual flowers, peduncle short, 0.5-1 cm long.
  • Flower 1.5 cm in diameter, petals 3-–4 mm long, blue or violet, rarely white, fertile stamens 3, staminodes 3, 1 often without anther, cleistogamous flowers sometimes under ground on rhizomes.
  • Capsule elongate-globular, 4-–6 mm long, 3-celled, 5-seeded, 1 seed larger than the others.
  • Seed 1.5–-3.5 mm long, strongly ribbed-wrinkled, greyish-brown.

C. benghalensis is growing in less humid conditions than C. diffusa, on sunny or lightly shaded localities, grass land, waste places and compost heaps, along roadsides, around villages, on rich, often heavy soils, from sea-level up to 1000 m altitude.

Selected sources

22, 134,

  • Burkill, I.H., 1966. A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula. Revised reprint. 2 volumes. Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Vol. 1 (A-H) pp. 1-1240, Vol. 2 (I-Z) pp. 1241-2444.

215, 352, 459, 605, 747, 914.


  • Isa Ipor